We still hate you but the First Amendment does not

When Constance McMillen wanted to go to her prom with her girlfriend and her school said no, she sued over the violation of her rights. A judge has given a big victory in principle (a smaller one in practice).

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson refused the American Civil Liberties Union’s demand to force the Itawamba County school district to put on the April 2 prom. However, he said canceling it did violate 18-year-old Constance McMillen’s rights and that he would hold a trial on the issue.

“The court finds this expression and communication falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment,” Davidson said.

It’s too bad the school was going to hold the dance so early, but the principled victory here is huge. Constance deserved to bring her girlfriend with her to prom; the judge affirmed that.

Of course, the school actually has the inanity to continue.

Ben Griffith, the school district’s attorney, said his clients were pleased with the ruling.

“What we’re looking at now is the fact that the case is still on the docket for a trial on the merits,” Griffith said.

Got that? The Itawamba County school district is pleased to hear that they violated the rights of one of their students.

And as if that wasn’t enough,

McMillen isn’t sure if she’ll go to the dance.

“I’m going to school tomorrow (Wednesday) and will get a feel of how everybody feels about me. That will help me make my decision about whether I’m going to the private prom,” McMillen said. “I want to go because all my junior and senior class will be there, but I don’t want to be somewhere I’m not welcomed.”

This lack of acceptance turned to intolerance has a real life toll; I think that’s something that can get missed in all this. We should all fight for equal rights because, as Nelson Mandela said, “Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.” Rights are exercised by individuals but they are had by all. If just one individual is denied her lawful rights, then they cease to be rights and instead become privileges.

But in all this personal turmoil, hardship, discrimination, and general social concern is some good (auxiliary) news:

[Constance] has appeared on the “The Early Show,” “The Wanda Sykes Show” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to talk about how she is fighting for tolerance. DeGeneres presented her with a $30,000 college scholarship from Tonic, a digital media company.


One Response

  1. A real life toll that wingnuts like to turn into the fault of her being queer, rather than face up to facts; The toll is due to their unconscionable bashing of people just because they’re different.

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